Havering Council vote down proposal for free parking at Christmas

A proposal at last week’s council meeting to introduce free parking over the Christmas period was defeated.

The proposal, made at Havering’s full council meeting last Wednesday (September 19), came from the Residents’ Association (RA). The RA wanted all council-managed car parks to waive car parking costs for the first two hours of every car park stay in the two weekends leading up to Christmas, and from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day inclusive.

Twelve councillors supported the motion, while 26 voted against it and four abstained.

Following the meeting, RA leader Cllr Clarence Barrett (Cranham) said: “As we are still in the middle of an economic recession, our proposal was designed to help boost businesses, promote our local economies and help shoppers over the coming Christmas and New Year period. But yet again the Tory administration has chosen to snub a well meaning and affordable initiative.”

But Cllr Barry Tebbutt (Conservative, Brooklands), cabinet member for environment, told the Recorder it wasn’t cost-effective to alter car park charges for a four-week period halfway through a budget – and would leave the council’s street care department with a �25,000 bill.

“If they want me to look at doing it in a cost effective manner that’s a different matter,” he said. “At the moment, the car parks are cost-neutral because the people who use the car park pay for the its running. I would rather do additional advertising for the town centre [to stimulate trade].”

He added the street care department had a �100,000 shortfall this year as a result of fewer parking tickets and permits being issued.

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But Cllr Barrett said the �25,000 bill could have been met using “the �6.7 million under-spend racked up last year”.

He added: “This administration says it is on the side of local businesses, but its response to our proposal would suggest otherwise.”

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